20VC: Initialized’s Garry Tan on The Most Important Thing A Seed Investor Can Do For Founders, How Ownership Requirements Change With Evolution of Funds & Why There Is Not Too Much Capital Chasing Too Few Deals
Posted on 1st April 2019 by Harry
Garry Tan is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner @ Initialized Capital, one of the West Coast’s leading early-stage funds with a portfolio including the likes of Coinbase, Instacart, Cruise, Flexport and Opendoor, just to name a few. As for Garry, before co-founding Initialized, he was a partner at Y Combinator for nearly five years where he advised and funded over 600 companies. He was also co-founder of YC-backed blog platform Posterous (acquired by Twitter in 2012). Before that he was employee #10 at Palantir, where he was a founding member of the engineering team for Palantir’s financial analysis product, and also fun fact, Garry designed Palantir’s logo.
1.) How Garry made his way from Founder and YC Partner to managing over $500m AUM today with his leading of Initialized? How did Garry’s investment mindset change with the transition from angel to an institutional investor?
2.) What does Garry believe is the one thing pre-seed and seed investors must do that is more important than anything else? What relationship to the very best founders have with failure? How do they think about and approach it? How has Garry seen his own conviction building process in founders change over time? How does Garry approach the turning down of opportunities? What is the right way to deliver that feedback?
3.) Ownership: Initialized’s funds have scaled from Fund I being $7m to Fund 4 being $225m, how have their ownership requirements changed with the evolution of their fund size? How does Garry think about collaboration and co-opetition with others funds as a result? What are the core challenges here?
4.) Price Sensitivity: With the larger fund and slightly more flexibility, how does Garry evaluate his own price sensitivity? What deal has Garry passed on due to price and it has stuck with him and taught him a valuable lesson? On pricing, how does Garry and Initialized approach reserve allocation?
5.) Investment Decision-Making: Garry has previously said “decision-making is a differentiator”, what do Initialized do to ensure the highest quality of internal discussion and decision-making? How do they approach unanimous vs single partner decision-making? How does Initialized approach internal attribution with this in mind?